Whitefly hijacks a plant detoxification gene that neutralizes plant toxins

Jixing Xia, Zhaojiang Guo, Zezhong Yang, Haolin Han, Shaoli Wang, Haifeng Xu, Xin Yang, Fengshan Yang, Qingjun Wu, Wen Xie, Xuguo Zhou, Wannes Dermauw, Ted Turlings & Youjun Zhang

Résumé Plants protect themselves with a vast array of toxic secondary metabolites, yet most plants serve as food for insects. The evolutionary processes that allow herbivorous insects to resist plant defenses remain largely un- known. The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a cosmopolitan, highly polyphagous agricultural pest that vectors several serious plant pathogenic viruses and is an excellent model to probe the molecular mechanisms involved in overcoming plant defenses. Here, we show that, through an exceptional horizontal gene transfer event, the whitefly has acquired the plant-derived phenolic glucoside malonyltransferase gene BtPMaT1. This gene enables whiteflies to neutralize phenolic glucosides. This was confirmed by genetically transform- ing tomato plants to produce small interfering RNAs that silence BtPMaT1, thus impairing the whiteflies’ detoxification ability. These findings reveal an evolutionary scenario whereby herbivores harness the genetic toolkit of their host plants to develop resistance to plant defenses and how this can be exploited for crop protection.
Mots-clés horizontal gene transfer
phenolic glucoside malonyltransferase
insect-plant interaction
plant secondary metabolite
pest control
Citation Xia, J., Guo, Z., Yang, Z., Han, H., Wang, S., Xu, H., Yang, X., Yang, F., Wu, Q., Xie, W., Zhou, X., Dermauw, W., Turlings, T., & Zhang, Y. (2021). Whitefly hijacks a plant detoxification gene that neutralizes plant toxins. Cell, 184, 1693-1705.
Type Article de périodique (Anglais)
Date de publication 1-4-2021
Nom du périodique Cell
Volume 184
Pages 1693-1705
URL https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.02.014